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Living Tissue Emerges From 3-D Printer

Harvard bioengineers say they have taken a big step toward using 3-D printers to make living tissue. They’ve made a machine with multiple printer heads that each extrudes a different biological building block to make complex tissue and blood vessels.

Their work represents a significant advance toward producing living medical models upon which drugs could be tested for safety and effectiveness.

It also advances the ball in the direction of an even bigger goal. Such a machine and the techniques being refined by researchers offer a glimpse of the early steps in a sci-fi healthcare scenario: One day surgeons might feed detailed CT scans of human body parts into a 3-D printer, manipulate them with design software, and produce healthy replacements for diseased or injured tissues or organs.

Read more below and click the gifs for explanations. 

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Batteries From Viruses and Carbon Nanotubes

by Txchnologist staff

MIT biological engineering, materials science and energy researcher Angela Belcher takes her cues from nature to create amazing things. Among her portfolio of important work, she has created batteries powered by a combination of biological and inorganic components. Her team has selected viruses that can grab onto carbon nanotubes to grow electrodes in solution. When dried out and refined, these nanotube-coated viruses are turned into batteries that can power small electronics.

She won the university’s 2013 Lemelson-MIT Prize for harnessing nature to design environmentally friendly solar cells, clean transportation fuel and viral batteries. There is still much more work to do, but Belcher says she hopes to one day drive around in a virus-powered electric car.

Check out her 2011 TED talk below.

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Device Harvests Energy From Moving Organs To Power Implants

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by Michael Keller

Your heart expends half a joule of energy every time it beats. That’s the same amount of juice you’d need to lift an apple 1.6 feet off the ground.

Before every contraction, the potential energy trapped in chemical bonds within cardiac muscle cells is released and converted into the mechanical power of the heartbeat. But, like all energy, that which is harnessed to power the heart is never destroyed; it just changes form as it radiates away from the organ as heat and vibrations of surrounding tissue and fluid. 

Now, a science team has announced a breakthrough in harvesting the energy released from the movement of the beating heart, the breathing lung and the flexing diaphragm. They’ve developed a superthin device that can be attached to an organ to generate electricity from its movements. 

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Industrial designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin have been developing the Hövding airbag for cyclists since 2005. Their idea was to get more people to want to wear head safety gear. The solution as they see it? Make the bicycle helmet invisible.

Hövding is fitted with sensors that inflate the airbag with compressed gas before impact. They say their innovation is better than traditional helmets because it covers more of the head and absorbs more shock when deployed. It also fits inside a stylish collar when stored. 

Click through to watch the whole Focus Forward video featuring their invention.

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